Living in the Age of Electronic Friendships

Living in the Age of Electronic Friendships

A reminder of all the personal and business friends you have now that you never would have had if you hadn’t begun to communicate electronically with others. You’ll be introduced to several of Barbara’s online friends in various walks of life that you might like to connect with too.

graphis reading the Power of Networking

The Internet: A Dramatic Life Changer

IN LOOKING BACK to when I launched Barbara Brabec’s World in 2000, I remember that I didn’t have a clue about where this kind of internet presence would lead me, nor could I imagine all the doors of opportunity the World Wide Web would eventually open for me. In fact, I knew little or nothing about the Internet, and prior to opening my own domain, I saw it as one of the greatest time-wasters ever invented. Actually, given how much time some people do waste surfing the web (myself included)—and forwarding emails sometimes  loaded with copyrighted content (which I never do out of respect to the author or artist)—I wasn’t exactly wrong.

Initially I hoped I could enhance my professional image by having a website, and I certainly accomplished that goal. But what I never imagined in 2000 was how being active on the internet would enrich my life by constantly connecting me to new people—many of whom would become clients, helpful business associates, or personal friends. Without being active on any social network (I’ve never found time for that), I’ve met countless people from all walks of life all over the world, usually after an individual’s keyword search has brought them to a particular page or article on my website or because someone linked them to me. 

Naturally, many of my email meetings are short-lived and brief, but quite often the people who contact me for either business or personal reasons end up in my address book as friends. I couldn’t begin to tally all the hours I’ve spent in communicating with all these people . . . but that goes with the territory if one is interested in building lasting personal or business relationships.

Prior to getting on the web, I communicated with my subscribers and friends the old fashioned way . . . by phone and sometimes fax, but mostly with typed letters sent by mail. I wrote and received thousands upon thousands of letters between 1971 and 2000, keeping copies of most of my letters and many I received. Today I file in an annual folder printed copies of my most interesting email exchanges for personal reference and remembrances and also save some in topic folders on my hard drive. Why? Because this is HISTORY to me, some of which I may eventually incorporate into some of my writing.

Friends I’ll Never Meet in Person

I AM UNLIKELY TO EVER MEET in person most of the individuals I’ve met online and still communicate with by email or phone, but that doesn’t matter. What matters are the friendships themselves and how they enrich my life for however long they may last.

Allow me to tell you about the kind of interesting people I’ve met simply by being active on the web. I have made lasting friendships with a number of individuals in both the home-business and arts/crafts industries. I’ve also had many an interesting conversation or email exchange with individuals in other industries and professions, including scientists, dieticians, corporate executives, pastors, attorneys, and even a judge.

Because of the series of articles I wrote after I was widowed in 2005, I often hear from new widows who are grieving the loss of a loved one and looking for any kind of hope and encouragement they can get. Counseling them became part of my little Christian ministry on the web after my husband died, and this “work” has been emotionally helpful not only to those who are grieving, but to me as well. This message from one of those widows illustrates my point. Jill wrote:

“About a year and a half ago I wrote to you regarding the depression I was going through after my husband’s death; I just couldn’t function. Everything you had said was ‘right on the mark,’ and you made me feel like I wasn’t going crazy and I wasn’t losing my mind. Thank You, you will always be in my heart and my prayers.”

Because of the memoir I wrote about my life with a drummer named Harry, I’ve met some very interesting musicians. For example, a few years ago I was contacted by Leticia Bal, a Latin percussionist and marimbist in Holland who had found a page on my personal domain about my memoir and my experience as a professional marimbist in the sixties. She then featured me on her website for a while because she thought I was doing something unique in the fifties similar to what she does now, which is perform in concert and provide easy listening music on a marimba. It was so nice to be recognized by her for something I did so many years ago. (You can hear some of Leticia’s unusual marimba music on her website above.) .

In 2010, after setting up a companion WordPress blog for my Drummer Drives memoir, I made several new electronic friendships with people who knew or had worked with Harry, from old school chums to Chicago Symphony musicians who shared stories about him I’d never heard before. I also wrote several articles about my communications with some of these musicians, and others contributed articles to the site.

NOTE: I closed this nostalgic Chicago music history website in 2014 because I could no longer justify the time to solicit or post new articles or maintain the site. A few articles from it are now on this domain and others may be added to my MUSIC articles category as time allows.

 One of my most interesting drummer friends at that time was a drummer in Japan who wrote to tell me he once took a marimba lesson from Harry in the sixties and then found me after I’d published my memoir of my life with him. After George Edwards and I had a few entertaining email exchanges, I took delight in linking him to one of Harry’s former students from his Walt Disney days, and they went on to forge a special email friendship. My electronic friendship with George became more enjoyable when we began to chat occasionally on Skype.  We haven’t been in touch lately, but his drum videos on Facebook may be of interest to some musicians in my readership.

After publishing my first biographical memoir, I changed directions as a writer. Now I’m communicating mostly with old friends and acquaintances and new folks with a special interest in my professional services related to writing and self-publishing. It’s hard to put into words the joy I’ve had in helping several first-time authors publish their first book and then continuing the friendships that developed during that process.

One of the first authors I helped was Shawn Smith, a young man who changed my life when he asked me to help him with his first book. Shawn is now like a son to me because of the help and support he gave me after Harry died in 2005. Because he lived in my area when we first met, this was one electronic friendship that soon developed into a very close personal Christian friendship, one with many good conversations and laughter as he helped me through my grieving process and I helped him write and publish his first book. We later worked on another book you can see here. Now many miles apart, we treasure every moment we have on the phone and the rare visits we can have in person now.

Bringing People Together on the Web

YOU’VE HEARD THE OLD SAYING, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” To understand the importance of this, you only have to think of one special contact you made on the web after someone connected you to them. Because I know so many people, I often encounter two people I know who need to know one another, and it always gives me a kick when I’m able to connect them. For example, take Adam Kolczynski, an independent publisher in the UK, and Andrew Drage, an author in Australia. After both of them found me on Linked In through different avenues, I could see that they were a match made in heaven. It wasn’t long afterward that I received autographed copies of two of Andrew’s books published through Adam’s publishing house, which later evolved into iAuthor. “Thanks for your advice and making this possible,” Andrew inscribed.

2021 update: Adam has apparently changed business directions, as his iAuthor page on Facebook suggests.

More recently, while in the process of writing the memoir about my mother, two authors contacted me about the same time for help in getting their family memoirs ready for publication and then setting up a website. Linda Lewis in Michigan and Gayle Larson Schuck in North Dakota never imagined then that connecting with me would turn out to be life-changing for the three of us. After I’d formed a close author friendship with both of these women, I realized they needed to be friends. Soon the three of us formed our own special support group. (God works in mysterious ways.) Now we help and encourage each other as professional writers and Christian friends, and all three of us are now working on a new book. (You might like to subscribe to Gayle’s mailing list. Her real life stories are exceptionally well written and informative.) 

Ah . . . the sweet connections that are now possible, thanks to the internet! Surfing the web and communicating electronically may take a lot of our time each day, but I think you’ll agree that our lives have become infinitely richer because of the many electronic friendships we’ve been able to forge as a result.

Related Articles:

The Healing Power of Friendship and Love. A message everyone can relate to.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. Barbara reflects on what many people are now losing because of the convenience and speed of electronic and digital communication that have made letters seem impractical.

A Widow’s Thoughts and Advice. An Uplifting Series of Articles for Widows and Other Grieving Hearts  [PDF]. Three months a widow, Barbara began a ten-year series of articles in which she shared her widowhood journey and advice while reporting on conversations with other widows and their mutual strategies for dealing with grief and loss and moving on.

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